By Joanna Cosgrove
More relevant now than ever, especially with its popularity on Netflix, it’s an understatement to say RuPaul’s Drag Race is becoming very influential in mainstream media – especially as this year, the world’s most fabulous reality show won its first Emmy.
If you have watched this show, from its early beginnings in 2009 to its eighth season that finished this year, you will be aware that 100 – yes, 100 – drag queens have walked into that work room with the same dream: to become America’s Next Drag Superstar. Including All Stars, there have been 10 winners of that crown so far; but not every fan loves the winning queen. Many queens, from season to season, win over our hearts with their beauty and their touching life stories.
In this list, I will rate my personal favourite 10 drag queens and believe me, it’s tough to narrow down 100 into 10. If things are necessary, another top 10 will be written up – until then, here are my first top 10.
- Adore Delano (Season 6)
We all love a bitch – well, if you watch Drag Race, at least.
Adore came in with grace (sorta) and throughout her long-term run in season 6, she was always there to cause drama, anger others, and give us some entertainment. But let’s not forget some of her winning styles!
I knew she was going to succeed in the season when I saw her come in, turquoise wig on and red outfit rocked, she was going to make her outfits stand out. Whether that’s in a good or bad way, that’s not up to me to decide. All I can say is, her face is all you remember. Her made-up, naturally bitchy face.
Favourite quote: “Party!”
- Chad Michaels (Season 4)
Don’t get confused. I promise, this queen is not Cher. But damn close!
From the start of the season, Chad was honest and said she has one specialty: impersonating the one and only Cher. I mean, going as far as having surgical procedures to look like the iconic star. As crazy as that sounds, it really really pays off because she is as Cher as, well, Cher.
But unlike other drag impersonators, Chad did not stick to the Cher shtick. She was able to show various characters, show herself, and that is not the easiest for a drag queen who is known for one personality on stage.
Being one of the older queens who have competed, I give her all my love and respect. And just to finish: I love her pimp character!
Favourite quote: “I’m Cher, bitch!”
- Ivy Winters (Season 5)
True Drag Race fans, I know you just read this name out loud!
Ivy Winters (pronounced “Ivyyyyyyy Winteeeeeeers!”) was definitely one of the more memorable queens, even years after her competing on season 5. I know, every queen is basically memorable, but Ivy had a difference. With Ivy, I never felt spite, and that’s saying something when it comes to season 5.
For those who have no clue what I mean: in season 5, many queens were turning on Jinkx Monsoon (who fortunately ended up winning the season) and not in the sassy drag queen way. I meant, in the rude and spiteful way; in a way that made her feel out of place and break down in front of the others at times. Who was Jinkx’s one friend: Ivy.
An honest angel, Ivy was the definite Miss Congeniality as if it wasn’t Jinkx winning that crown, it sure as hell should’ve been her!
Favourite quote: “Hey ladies!”
- Detox (Season 5)
Detox can be summed up in one word: lips.
As I spoke about earlier with Chad Michaels, some queens have surgery to change their looks and possibly help their career in drag; that is too true for Detox. Throughout the season, she gets the usual cosmetic surgery jokes – along with some chicken comparisons – but like any charismatic queen, she laughs along and puts all her effort into the challenges.
Now to her lips. What gets her the giggles? What saves her in lip-syncs? Those lips. Yes, her lips have had work done also, but you should see how they dance. They shake, bounce, stutter, and you know it’s something unique and talented that Detox should use to her advantage.
(And let’s not forget her brilliant musical work with Willam and Vicky Vox!)
Favourite quote: “I’ve HAD IT!”
- Katya Zamolodchikova (Season 7)
Her name is Eкатерина Петровна Замолодчикова – but don’t worry, you can call her Katya.
Our only season 7 queen on this list, Katya brought some dirty good humour to the screen – even if it’s not a new thing on this show – and she made the show that little happier to watch. But as we discuss these past queens, we can talk about their success on Drag Race, and discuss what they’ve been up to since they appeared.
What I love Katya for most is her long-running web series UNHhhhh with fellow season 7 queen Trixie Mattel (who just about missed out on this top 10), because more than on Drag Race, we can see the filthy optimism that makes Katya that “Russian bisexual transvestite hooker” she promised to be on her first day on the reality show.
Favourite quote: “When in doubt, show them you’re a**hole”
- Sharon Needles (Season 4)
Hell is on Earth – and its name is Sharon Needles.
From the introducing episode of season 4, we all knew something new was rocking the Drag Race world. That something is gothic wonder Sharon Needles. When every queen was glamour, or comedy, she stormed in with that edge that her fellow contestants honestly thought would put her at an advantage – but there is no one way to drag (despite what some queens say). Sharon was also, at her time of competing, one half of a drag couple; her partner was season 5 contestant Alaska and she was even mentioned on Drag Race before she was brought on to compete. All because Sharon wanted to win a cruise for her. She definitely did one better – and all while grossing out the girls!
Favourite quote: “When in doubt, freak ‘em out”
- Shangela Laquifa Wadley (Season 2/3)
Where do we start with Miss Shangela?
Being the only queen to ever compete in two main seasons of Drag Race, Shangela was catapulted to fame quickly because she was one hell of a queen!
With a whole lotta glamour, glitter and hollering, Shangela Laquifa Wadley quickly became a favourite with Ru – maybe not with her fellow contestants (both sets of them) but oh well. I personally scream whenever I see her gorgeous self jump onto the TV screen because she has that humour and beauty which is a winning score when it comes to drag queens. Shangela is 10/10, would watch again – and again – and again.
Come back soon, Shangela!
Favourite quote: “Halleloo, ladies!”
- Latrice Royale (Season 4)
Larger than life. Large and in charge. That is Latrice!
One of the bigger queens in Drag Race her-story (I had to), Latrice won us over one one-liner at a time, and it was never planned. She is a natural comedy queen, but at the same time can bring the house down with her perfect makeup and drop-dead gorgeous fashion.
Formerly convicted, Latrice Royale saw a new life in drag performance, and thank god she did! She’s good at what she does, and on-screen has proven herself to be one professionally appearing actor, dancer, and lip-syncher (personally, Latrice should’ve stayed! She should’ve won the lip-sync!)
Since Drag Race, similar to the previous entry Shangela, she has made the occasional return to set the challenges for the contestants and outside of the television world, has been touring and taking part in musicals and stage shows.
Looks like that biscuit Jesus really did a number on Latrice!
Favourite quote: “Get those nuts away from my face!”
- Bianca Del Rio (Season 6)
We had comedy queens. Now here’s the queen of comedy… Queens.
Bianca Del Rio made her entrance on the second first episode of season 6 (for those who are a little confused: watch season 6), as she walked in, elegant as ever. But that elegant walk was from a rough-voiced, foul-mouthed, over-eyelashed comedian who took “all T, no shade” to a whole different level.
Bianca and her “Rolodex of hate” ended up winning, but that was after a whole season of one-liners and slams that will make you laugh your head off, then sit back and think “damn, was that okay to laugh at?”
Similar to season 4 winner Sharon Needles, Bianca did not have that usual glamour look (did I mention her eyelashes?!) but hell, she stayed true to the drag art that she enjoys and she does better than anything else. Need a reference? Watch the Drag Queens of Comedy challenge! Or see her Judge Judy impersonation! Or just watch the whole damn season!
Favourite quote: “Not today, Satan”
- Jinkx Monsoon (Season 5)
This is it! This is my number one queen!
Jinkx Monsoon is literally the most inspirational queen to ever walk onto Drag Race, because even I, who has personally watched season 5 about four times in full, cannot think of any queen more deserving of her crown.
Throughout her season, Jinkx was pushed to the ground for simply being very different. She was insulted for taking different approaches to challenges, for her narcolepsy (which we see her struggle with throughout the season), and especially for her comedic take on acting challenges. She had one honest heart, and she showed more raw emotion than any other contestant on that season. She even made me cry more than I would wish to tell you.
Jinkx fought through all her criticisms and with her humour, glamour, and loveable personality, she won! One of the most deserving queens to ever win a crown.
Now, post-Drag Race, Jinkx goes around the world acting, performing, doing everything she loves to do.
I’m currently saving my money up for her return to the UK because I would do anything to see my queen.
Favourite quote: “Water off a duck’s back”